My dearest London,
You look so handsome today. The sun is making you all shiny; warming you up after you shivered for a while under the snow. I like seeing you like this. It reminds me of all the reasons we’ve stayed together over the years. The golden cityscape you treat me to every morning from the top of the hill; your ability to pleasantly surprise me, like when I first heard classical music being played at Clapham North tube station or learned you were home to a family of flamingos; and the way you rally everyone together when times are hard.
I might not always show it, but I want to make things work between us. There’s a lot going on underneath your often tough exterior that I love. There’s your markets; your mews; your green spaces and Victorian trees. There’s your guerrilla gardens, like the Edible Bus Stop in Stockwell, and your inconspicuous jazz bars, like the Hideaway in Streatham.
Then there are your many characters. The lovely Sara who taught me how to keep hens in the city; Steve the London Honey Man, who makes your urban bees very happy indeed, and the elderly gent I see regularly on Portobello Road carrying a Jack Russell on his shoulder like a parrot.
The past eight years have not been easy; we’ve gone through our fair share of testing times. I blamed you when things were going badly – the redundancy, and those early days when your rents left me broke, when I questioned why I was still with you and felt I could find a better life back up north. But you didn’t abandon me. You taught me the tenacity I still see in you everyday – in your unwavering desire to grow skywards, and in your leafless apple tree at my local station that refuses to let go of its fruit.
Living in each other’s pockets was always going to be volatile. You really do have a tendency to overcrowd me at times. When distance is called for it’s always me putting those 200 miles between us, as I escape to a quieter place. Those early days were especially feisty, remember? I’d go from feeling excitement and awe to having my bags packed ready to leave in a matter of days.
Then often against my will I begin to miss you. I think about your beauty at night, and about finding your organic coffee shop in Notting Hill that’s been serving me flat whites well before the world put a name to them. And I think about all the other little things I haven’t even discovered about you yet.
It’s fair to say it wasn’t love at first sight, but we’ve grown together and mellowed over the years. It’s on days like today when the sun is shining and you’re beckoning me in that I feel we’ve got something special – let’s hold onto that.